Dell Studio Hybrid review

£782
Price when reviewed

Blu-ray blues

Initially, all our Blu-ray test discs suffered from skipped frames and juddering. Turning off Windows Aero and disabling as many startup programs and services as we could seemed to help a little, as did enabling the hard disk performance mode in the Hybrid’s BIOS, but playback still remained far from smooth.

it_photo_6031Playing back discs with our own copy of CyberLink’s PowerDVD 8 Ultra, rather than Dell’s MediaDirect, generally gave smoother results but also saw CPU usage shoot up from peaks of 60-70% to peaks of 100%, causing the video to skip frames. The spike in CPU usage implies that PowerDVD doesn’t take advantage of the Broadcom HD acceleration card, but with MediaDirect jerking and juddering constantly, and PowerDVD stuttering in high-bitrate scenes, the Studio Hybrid finds itself stuck between a rock and a hard place.

It’s a real shame that Dell didn’t provide a more robust specification, or alternatively a more modest one, as the Studio Hybrid shows a lot of promise. The chassis is compact and good looking, and with a cheaper Core 2 Duo, or Atom for that matter, as well as a more frugal set of components, the Hybrid could be an attractive budget option for many consumers.

And, at the other end of the scale, if Dell threw out the older generation Intel components in favour of newer parts such as the latest P8000 Core 2 Duo family and Blu-ray-friendly GMA X4500 graphics, the pricier specifications would be much more enticing to those seeking a compact, powerful Media Center PC for the lounge.

The final nail is driven into the Hybrid’s slate-grey coffin courtesy of Dell’s pricing.

Our review unit costs £680, without a monitor, and with ropey Blu-ray playback to boot. Frankly, we’ve seen better. The A-Listed Transtec Senyo 610 is faster, smaller and just as green (although a little less media focused), so for a current price of less than £520 it sends the glossy, sleek, but ultimately disappointing Dell Studio Hybrid back to the drawing board.

Warranty

Warranty1 year(s) collect and return

Basic specifications

Total hard disk capacity320
RAM capacity2.00GB
Screen sizeN/A

Processor

CPU familyIntel Core 2 Duo
CPU nominal frequency2.10GHz
CPU overclocked frequencyN/A
Processor socketLGA 775

Memory

Memory typeDDR2

Graphics card

3D performance settingHigh
Graphics chipsetIntel GMA X3100
Graphics card RAM384MB
DVI-I outputs1
HDMI outputs1
VGA (D-SUB) outputs1
DisplayPort outputs0

Hard disk

Capacity320GB
Hard disk usable capacity320GB
Internal disk interfaceSATA
Spindle speed5,400RPM
Hard disk 2 make and modelN/A
Hard disk 2 nominal capacityN/A
Hard disk 2 formatted capacityN/A
Hard disk 2 spindle speedN/A
Hard disk 2 cache sizeN/A
Hard disk 3 make and modelN/A
Hard disk 3 nominal capacityN/A
Hard disk 4 make and modelN/A
Hard disk 4 nominal capacityN/A

Drives

Optical disc technologyBlu-ray reader
Optical disk 2 make and modelN/A
Optical disk 3 make and modelN/A

Monitor

Monitor make and modelN/A
Resolution screen horizontalN/A
Resolution screen verticalN/A
ResolutionN/A x N/A
Pixel response timeN/A
Contrast ratioN/A
Screen brightnessN/A
DVI inputsN/A
HDMI inputsN/A
VGA inputsN/A
DisplayPort inputsN/A

Additional Peripherals

SpeakersN/A
Speaker typeN/A
PeripheralsN/A

Case

Case formatMini ITX
Dimensions71 x 211 x 196mm (WDH)

Free drive bays

Free front panel 5.25in bays0

Rear ports

USB ports (downstream)5
FireWire ports1
PS/2 mouse portno
Electrical S/PDIF audio ports0
Optical S/PDIF audio output ports1
Modemno

Front ports

Front panel USB ports2
Front panel memory card readeryes

Mouse & Keyboard

Mouse and keyboardDell wireless desktop

Operating system and software

OS familyWindows Vista

Noise and power

Idle power consumption26W
Peak power consumption45W

Performance tests

Overall application benchmark score1.00
Office application benchmark score0.97
2D graphics application benchmark score1.11
Encoding application benchmark score0.93
Multitasking application benchmark score1.02
3D performance (crysis) low settings0fps
3D performance settingHigh

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